The main benefit of Arginine or L-Arginine is when it changes into Nitric Oxide, in your body which causes blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation). Evidence in many publications suggests that arginine may help treat medical conditions that improve with vasodilation, such as chest pain, clogged arteries (atherosclerosis), coronary artery disease, erectile dysfunction, heart failure, and blood vessel swelling that causes headaches. Not only that, arginine also triggers the body to make protein, and has been studied for wound healing, bodybuilding, and enhancement of sperm production. Question...What do L-Arginine, car exhaust, dynamite and fireflies have in common? The answer, Nitric Oxide, simply abbreviated NO. One nitrogen atom attached to one oxygen atom. Nitric Oxide is a soluble, highly reactive gas produced in certain animal and plant cells from the amino acid arginine, and is a byproduct of combustion, as well as a product of natural chemical reactions in our atmosphere. Nitric Oxide can be derived from nitroglycerin as well, which is a major component of dynamite. Nitric Oxide also plays a role in firefly (lightening bugs) flashing.
It's a very prevalent molecule in the environment, but it has only been in the last 20 years that scientists have discovered just how important it is to your health. The many roles of Nitric Oxide, biological and otherwise, are so impressive that it was dubbed "Molecule of the Year" by Science magazine in 1992, followed by the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine for its discovery as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system. FYI don't confuse nitric oxide (NO) with nitrous oxide (N2O), or "laughing gas," the anesthetic gas used by dentists, which is two nitrogen atoms attached to one oxygen. Ok back to Arginine, most of the health benefits of Arginine are related to the fact that it's a precursor to Nitric Oxide in your body. Arginine is the only known nutritional substrate in your blood vessel lining available to endothelial cells (cells lining the interior surface of your blood vessels) for nitric oxide production. So your blood vessels require Arginine to synthesize nitric oxide.
Nitric Oxide has been shown to enhance blood flow and help you maintain optimal blood pressure. Nitric Oxide signals the smooth muscle cells in your blood vessels to relax, so that your vessels dilate and your blood flows more freely. This helps your arteries stay free of plaque. When you have inadequate Nitric Oxide, your risk for coronary artery disease increases. It also operates as a signaling molecule in your brain and immune system. If your blood is flowing freely, then nearly every physiological process will function better. If your blood is sluggish, then important cells and nutrients can't reach the areas that need them. In addition to improving blood flow and vessel elasticity, L-Arginine plays other important biological roles it:
- Helps get rid of ammonia: A toxic waste product. Your cells release nitrogen all the time from the normal process of repairing and replacing damaged cells, and this nitrogen combines with hydrogen to form ammonia.
- Assists in producing other amino acids: creatine, L-proline, and L-glutamate. Creatine is important to muscle energy and proper nervous system function. L-proline is important for collagen synthesis and the healing of wounds. L-glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, key to brain function, especially left hemisphere functions (logic and reasoning, language, computational skills, learning and memory).
- Promotes good sexual function: for both men and women. Increased microcirculation in genital tissues results in stronger erections and better sexual responsiveness, by the same nitric oxide mechanism.
- Has endocrine effects: Simply put it promotes the release of two important hormones, human growth hormone (HGH) and prolactin
L-Arginine combined with L-Citrulline's effectiveness has also been studied in combination with antioxidant supplements and the results from these studies is even more dramatic. The introduction of antioxidants to the already powerful effect of L-Arginine and L-Citrulline allows for these two supplements to better do their jobs because the antioxidants deactivate or neutralize the effects of the free radicals in the body, allowing for the easier production of Nitric Oxide. So, Nitric Oxide production is the catalyst for improved blood flow and lower blood pressure. Furthermore, studies have shown that when the body has done a good job getting rid of a significant amount of free radicals, antioxidants can then restore the health of the cells that produce Nitric Oxide (the endothelial cells) and can create a better defense against future attacks on our immune system.
So here we are, L-Arginine for Better Sex... Well 75% of men with heart disease have erectile problems. It's understandable, when you think about it in terms of one major underlying factor, impaired circulation. If the blood vessels to your heart are damaged, your heart doesn't get optimal blood flow. If the blood vessels in your sex organs are restricted, your "flag pole ain't so stiff !" Don't forget the side effects you may be suffering could be from all of those pharmaceutical concoctions you may be taking to manage your heart disease. It makes sense, then, that Nitric Oxide levels are a major factor in sexual function, and the research has proved this. In fact, this is how a leading ED drug treats erectile problems, it increases nitric oxide production, relaxing your blood vessels, which increases blood flow to your organs, but, the price you might pay for using those pharmaceutical ED drugs and ignoring the real cause of restricted blood flow is dangerous indeed. Along with a bunch of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical medicine side effects. Including the chance of heart disease, stroke and sterility. Conditions that clearly will not help you toward a long, healthy life. L-arginine increases the action of nitric oxide, similar to ED drugs, but WITHOUT the potentially dangerous side effects. Two recent studies have shown that L-Arginine can be particularly effective when used in combination with two other natural agents:
- L-arginine and Pycnogenol resulted in significant improvement in sexual function in men with ED, according to this 2003 study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12851125.
- L-arginine and Yohimbine were found to increase sexual arousal in a 2002 study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12187545 of postmenopausal women with sexual arousal disorder.
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications are used in conjunction with arginine, including ibuprofen for treating migraine headaches and fish oil for reducing infections, notes MedlinePlus. Arginine has been proposed for other uses including altitude sickness, high blood pressure, the common cold and sexual dysfunction in women, notes the NYU Langone Medical Center. Some individuals use L-Arginine topically on the skin to improve blood flow to the extremities or reduce the healing time for injuries.
- Seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, caroway)
- Seaweed (spirulina is an excellent source)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts)
- Eggs and Whey
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